Here is the second part! First part here!
Again, great gobs of thanks to my beta, snickfic. This chapter starts immediately after the first one.
Warning: Xander acts immature.
Chapter Two: The Ring
“And there’s the way they smell,” Dawn made a gagging face, which wasn’t very encouraging considering she was stirring the mac n’ cheese they were going to have for dinner. “Have boys never discovered the wonders of soap? It’s like… wet dog.”
“Grave dirt,” Buffy supplied. “Moldy crypts and dried blood.”
Dawn stopped stirring and looked back at her. “You know, you should try dating the living.”
“I did. The living preferred the dead.” Buffy plucked listlessly at her hair, looking up at it and wondering if a cream rinse would be enough to combat the combination of high emotion, battle and doublemeat grease.
Dawn set the macaroni pot on the counter in front of Buffy and stuck two forks in it. “Great. Because you look kinda dead.”
Buffy groaned and buried her head in her folded arms.
“Come on.” Dawn poked her elbow. “You always have these, like, totally hot guys following you around like starving puppies. Admit it – it’s nice, isn’t it? Having boys be all into you and stuff?”
Buffy picked up her fork. “Yeah,” she said, exhaling with the weight of finally admitting something to herself, “It’s nice.”
“So spill, what’s with the sudden Spike-love?” Dawn dropped her chin on her hand with an attentive look.
“Spike-love? There is no Spike-love!” Buffy stared at her, feeling the opening, the moment she could bare her soul and let it all come clean.
Still watching attentively, Dawn speared some macaroni.
Buffy sighed. She couldn’t do it. “It’s not like that. It’s just… he was supposed to be stalking me, all in love.” Buffy poked at her macaroni, not feeling hungry. “I guess I started trusting him to always be there.”
She looked at Dawn, wondering if she could hear the truth in the lie, and also which she was more afraid of.
“Two thousand? This is a bloody classic!” Spike touched the Desoto as though to comfort her from hearing the disappointing offer.
The owner and operator of Happy Dan’s Celebrity Used Cars was not impressed. He raised his eyebrows, which made the blue tufts on the tips of his ears bob. They were the only outward sign of his demonic heritage, unless you counted his attitude. “You wanna take it up with some other dealer, be my guest. I’m sure there are lotsa guys in Sunnydale, California open after dark and willing to take a beat-up vandalized hunk of junk like that with no title papers. Maybe the tooth fairy’ll give you twenty-five hundred.”
Spike scowled down at the scratched black paint. “She’s a limited run, still has factory paint, almost all original parts, and I’ve had it over a decade so you don’t need to worry about the previous owner showing up.”
Dan clasped his heart. “Stolen? That’s a real shock. You’re a real genius, aren’t you? Just keep talking me down.”
Spike growled. “I said it’s been a soddin’ decade.”
“All right, if you’re telling the truth about how hot it is not, I’ll give you that twenty-five hundred.”
Spike chewed his lip, thinking. “I need enough money to buy a diamond big enough to blow her eyes out of their sockets.”
“In the market for an engagement ring? My cousin Dave has a few rings that fell off a truck. Very nice, not traceable.”
“Sod off. If I wanted stolen jewelry, I’d steal it. My girl’s got to have a diamond that’s come by honestly.”
“Nothing honest about how you’ve been treating this beautiful piece of Detroit steel. But I tell you what – since it’s an affair of the heart and all, I’ll make a deal. You clean the windows off, I’ll give you another hundred.”
“Make it three thousand.”
“Three thousand and I don’t bite you?” Spike offered.
“I’m a businessman who stays open past dark in Sunnydale. Don’t insult me. Two G’s and six.”
“Three thousand and I kill a demon of your choice?”
“You sound like a man who has a ring in mind.”
“Is that a yes?”
Dan smiled. “You’re a good kid. Come on back to my office and we’ll make it a deal. Incidentally, you ever hear of Kelley’s Blue Book?”
“Is that a diamond store?”
“Naw, forget I mentioned it. Let’s get you your three grand and make a nice, legal-ish title for this old car.”
Spike sprinted up the front steps of Buffy’s house, clutching the ring box inside his coat pocket. He stopped in front of the door, though, slightly out of breath. A tiny voice in the back of his brain was asking what kind of idiot he was to come up with this plan.
That little voice was always late to the party. Spike pulled the door open without knocking and barreled straight into Xander.
“What are you doing here?” they asked each other in stereo, and then glared equally, fists balled.
“Why don’t you bugger off? You’re good at that, aren’t you?”
“Just a bit more, Fangless. Give me an excuse to kick your sorry ass.”
Willow ran in, laptop in hand. “Woah. Okay… this isn’t good. Can we not kill each other right now?”
“Will!” Xander turned his back on Spike, hands out. “Don’t worry. There aren’t enough words to describe how unimportant Spike is. I just ran into Warren. Or rather, my face ran into him…”
“Never mind this wanker,” Spike shouldered past Xander. “Where’s Buffy? I have something for her. Something vitally important.”
Xander looked disgusted. “You don’t have anything for anyone. Nothing anyone sober and in their right mind is interested in.”
“I know you’re annoyed because I’m hotter, plaid boy. Though maybe it’s just that even a soulless beast wouldn’t do something so asinine and hurtful as leave a bird at the altar.” Spike raised his chin. “Or is it knowing that I’ve got a bigger…”
A dull shudder went through the house, followed by another heavy thud and shouting – Willow’s voice carrying over two lower male voices.
Buffy groaned, leaning back against the rim of the tub. “One hour? Could I get one hour to myself? No, of course not.”
She wrapped her sopping hair in a towel and threw on her robe, not sure what taking the time to dry would cost her in property damage.
Willow met her on the stairs, eyes wide with panic. “I could cast a spell,” she said. “To stop them. Buffy, should I?”
Another thud caused the light fixtures to rattle and flicker. Buffy tightened her robe-sash. “Just leave it to me,” she said.
Xander was crouched over the fireplace. Two black denim-clad legs sprawled out behind him. He raised the fire poker in one hand and brought it down.
“Xander!” Buffy ran up to him, grabbing the weapon as he swung back again.
Spike’s face was bloody and he hung limply from Xander’s grip on his shirt. Buffy wrenched the poker out of Xander’s hand and pushed him back.
“He started it!” Xander pointed at Spike.
Spike’s eyelids were fluttering in a way that made Buffy suspect that he had tried to get a swing in, the stupid vampire. She looked for a place to put the poker, which was covered in blood at one end. Gingerly she set it on the already blood-splattered hearth. “Is this going to happen every time you two are in the same room together?”
“Buffy, he has no right to be here. Not after what he did.”
Buffy put her hands on her hips. “What he did? How about what you did?”
Xander looked pained. “Am I going to have to apologize every day for the rest of my life for this? I couldn’t go through with it. Yes, I’m a coward. It’s marriage, Buffy! It’s kind of a big deal decision and maybe I…”
“Xander, that was a bad decision. Poor timing. Really jerky. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about you beating on someone who can’t fight back. Twice, now. I don’t blame you for the first time – you were out of your mind. But right now you’re crossing a line.”
Xander looked down at Spike, who despite having a gash in his forehead and blood dripping down over one eye, managed to smirk smugly at him. Then the effort was too much and he fell over.
Willow crossed over to Spike and stood over him. “Um… I think he’ll be okay? I mean, vampire, right? Oh, Xander! How could you do this?”
“He’s evil! And can I tell you how much he started it? He knows he can’t fight back. It doesn’t stop him from picking fights, does it? And you know how he has this way of saying just exactly the wrong thing. It’s like he sees the big shiny ‘don’t press’ button and can’t stop pressing it. I can’t believe I’m the one who has to explain himself.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “So he was acting like Spike? Gee, I’m shocked. I’m not expecting you to like him, or even put up with him, but I can’t be always pulling you apart like this.”
Spike coughed, raising up with Willow’s hand on his back. “’Sallright.” He spat a blob of blood at the bricks next to his elbow. “I’ll just do what I came here to do and be off.”
Xander flexed his fist, looking mildly guilty, and angry for feeling guilty, he tore his gaze away from Spike’s struggle to get up. “Buffy, I just came to tell you – Warren’s gotten super-powers somehow. He’s at this bar downtown.”
Spike shrugged away from Willow’s hold, and took a step forward, holding a ring box out. “Buffy? Will you marry me?”
He swayed, flipping the ring-box open to show the diamond ring inside. Buffy gaped. Xander looked like he doubted his own sanity. Willow stepped forward to get a better look. And then Spike’s eyes rolled up and he fell face-first into Buffy, who caught him by the shoulders.
“Wow,” said Willow. “That was random.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/450330.html